Thousands of people attended Fourth of July celebrations Thursday and tens of thousands more will head out in the evening to watch the rockets red glare at fireworks events. But a small parade held every year in one Arlington neighborhood is one of the Jacksonville's best holiday traditions.
The Fairways Forest community has held a parade and cookout every Fourth of July since 1975 to recognize the men and women in their neighborhood who are or have served in the military.
Doris Faustini is extremely proud of her World War II veteran husband, John. Even the Faustini's granddaughter knows the history behind the special holiday.
"Our family is all here because they help him celebrate, because they're very proud of him, too," said Faustini.
Tina Philips was one of many veterans in attendance. This 20-year Navy vet says this year's Independence Day has been extraordinary.
"It's great to see we have the best, world's greatest country," Phillip said. "Then we have the world's greatest neighborhood all in one, so it's a blessing."
The Naval Air Station Color Guard led nearly 40 active and retired military personnel, fire trucks, a police cruiser on a 1.7-mile route through the community. Hundreds followed behind, either wearing or waving red, white and blue.
After the parade the community shared a cookout and held games for the children.
"It makes me feel that I'm thankful for them to fight for us," said Becca Faustini, whose grandfather served in World War II.